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Talk show host refuses to pay child support for surrogate child

There are some scenarios in family law that are so stereotypical as to be taken for granted. Recently, however, a high-profile case involving some very interesting facts has turned a typical child support dispute scenario on its head.

The case involves Sherri Shepherd, whom Dallas residents will know as one of the co-hosts of the talk show The View. Shepherd married Lamar Sally in 2011, and the couple decided to have a child together through a surrogate mother. Lamar reportedly is the father of the unborn child, who was conceived with an egg donor. But in May, the couple decided to get a divorce. Now, Shepherd claims she was defrauded into signing the surrogate agreement and wants nothing to do with the child when it is born.

Critically, Shepherd also argues that she should have no obligation to pay child support to Sally. She claims that he intended to file for divorce all along and set up the surrogacy agreement in an attempt to wrangle substantial support payments out of Shepherd. In 2010, the year before the couple got married, Sally was living almost wholly off of unemployment. Television star Shepherd, on the other hand, is reputedly worth $10 million.

One consideration in this case, as in any child support dispute, is what will be in the best interest of the child. Courts recognize that a child's needs for health care and other everyday expenses must be provided for, and typically give this priority over parents' feelings when making a ruling. Modifications to monthly payments may be sought, but even these typically require a significant change in a parent's ability to pay.

It's not often that we hear news of a wealthy mother walking away from a father and child, refusing to pay child support. And while changing gender roles and new technologies in 2014 may give the sense that just about anything goes, a legal professional can help parents fight for their legal rights and protect their interests -- regardless of which side of a child support dispute they are on.

Source: Fox News, "Can Sherri Shepherd walk away from unborn surrogate child?" Hollie McKay, July 22, 2014

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